I regarded the excerpt below as too much backstory, and removed most of it from The Infinity Mantle, but if you’re interested in finding out more about the mighty Maghdim Medaillon, and how the Mantle came into being, read on!
Three thousand years before the present time the human population of Valaris was essentially decimated.
First there was Drasso’s extermination, which was wholesale slaughter, and their numbers were further depleted when the Immortals descended to do battle. Using human tactics to fight a war required men, many men. That part of the war lasted three years, and at the end of it, large tracts of land were wasteland … and thus more succumbed, for the aftermath was as hard as the wars fought.
Only the Great Forest remained unscathed, but it became a physical and emotional divide between north and south.
The Guardians saw this, but were powerless to change it. Not only could neither side see beyond the wastelands in the aftermath, but also they no longer trusted their saviours. Deified they were, but the terrible power of the Immortals left the humans as fearful of them as they were of Drasso, Infinity and their kind. The Guardians chose to leave the humans to rebuild alone.
They left an inheritance for each region divided by trees and superstitions.
To the north went ten volumes, containing within the pages of antiquity universal truths. Warded within those pages were sufficient charms to promote the spirit of adventure, the need to restore the past, and a wish to cross the wastelands in search of other survivors.
The charms needed to be read aloud, which they never were, for the dead language was also an unpronounceable one. Fear of magic had stilled most tongues.
The ten volumes were and are collectively known as the Ancient Oracles.
To the south went the Maghdim Medaillon. In the Ancient Tongue it translated as ‘Supreme Wisdom’. It had the power to summon the clans of old, particularly those of the north with numbers to call to, but like to the Oracles, it was not used. Fear of magic stilled it also.
The remaining sorcerers in the south guarded the Maghdim Medaillon. Their numbers were small, fifteen having survived Drasso. From them, the continuance to the present-day Society.
The golden medal lay in its velvet casket for two centuries, the sorcerers too afraid to discover what it could do. Sorcery was outlawed before Drasso; after him, it was worse.
There came a day a young apprentice magician, Ugarth by name, stole the velvet casket and carried it secretly to his quarters within the Society, there to study it.
In those early days of the Society, magic was more than theory, and Ugarth’s touch was the first the device received in two centuries. It burned him fiercely on first contact. His hand hurt and he was afraid, but was more fearful of discovery. Warding himself against burning, which the Medaillon unaccountably permitted, he retrieved it from the floor.
Imagine his surprise when on second contact images flooded his mind of northern lands fertile and populated, of stars near and far, of other inhabited worlds, of enchantments and wardings he never dreamed of. He was entranced and transfixed, but soon shook out of it, knowing instinctively his life would be in danger if he broadcast this newfound knowledge, not only from the outside world, but also from those within his own ranks.
The fear of the supernatural continued with manic intensity and the Society lost ground to the world, and went into hiding to protect themselves and their arts, but also there were factions within, some political, some greedy, and some arrogant. Jealousy could lead to death, and it was known certain sorcerers were secretly revealed to the authorities … thereby removing rivals. Ugarth was in love with his skin, and knew how to keep a secret.
Ugarth shaped a detailed and true replica, and replaced that in the casket, which he then returned to its usual place. The real Medaillon he wore about his neck out of sight.
As Ugarth became more proficient, he cast an intricate spell. He limited the device to one master or mistress at a time, it to be gifted secretly from generation to generation, the gifting enchantment learned only once in the receiving. Any who casually handled it would thus be burned. Ugarth did not realize that the medal itself enabled this enchantment from him. The burning was the true test in validating the Medaillon.
Ugarth cast a failsafe, perhaps recognizing a future task during his sessions with it. The failsafe was that one other was to command it, someone other than its master or mistress. That person could only be the most powerful sorcerer of the time, and only that individual would have the power to call the clans, although Ugarth regarded the latter factor as irrelevant. The device demanded this, and the legend passed down into the future would be why McSee was shocked and Aven fatalistic;
Rayne would prove true power on Valaris the instant he held it unharmed. Ugarth often wondered over the course of his life how much had been him and how much upon the Medaillon’s insistence.
Time went on. As the Society became less, the real Medaillon returned to its casket, its existence known to few. A new master or mistress was chosen by consensus, passing from old to young every generation. It remained a secret to those outside and gradually it was barred from those inside, until a sect formed to protect it, actively training sorcerers of all ranks, ever mindful of the legendary failsafe.
That sect was and is the Mantle.